Sometimes it’s obviously Jacksonville, Florida; sometimes it could be anyone of the many Jacksonvilles in the country. No matter which, Jacksonville’s had more than a few mentions in songs. There have been a few local acts who have dropped a reference (many local hip-hop acts will rep “Duval”), but the acts listed have had national chart appearances, from number one hits to obscure tracks. These aren't all of the songs that mention us, but this is a good sampling.
1. “I’ve Been Everywhere” – Hank Snow (#1 Country hit, 1962)
The travelogue song that was adapted from the original Australian version; the American version mentions many “villes”, including Jacksonville. Hank Snow’s version was a number one country hit. Johnny Cash did a cover of it as well.
2. “South’s Gonna Do it Again” – Charlie Daniels Band (#29 pop hit, 1975)
Charlie Daniel’s salute to southern music circa ’76 not only gives a shout out to Lynyrd Skynyrd but to their hometown
3. “We Takin’ Over” DJ Khaled (featuring Akon, Rick Ross, L’il Wayne, et al) (#26 pop hit, 2007)
Much like “I’ve Been Everywhere”, this entry mentions Jacksonville in a list of other towns.
4. “Jacksonville” – Josh Turner ( from this debut album, Long Black Train, 2003)
This song from country singer Josh Turner is about “our” Jacksonville. Turner told me that he was writing with co-writer Pat McLaughlin one day and Pat was wearing these shoes with Bob Marley's name on the side of them. Josh said, "Pat, where did you get those?" Pat said, "Oh, I got them killing time in Jacksonville." Josh replied, "That would make a cool song." It landed on his debut album in 2003, which went on to sell over a million copies.
5. “Are You Lonely For Me” – Freddie Scott (4-week #1 R&B hit, 1967)
Bert Berns-written hit has been covered by everyone from Al Green to the Grateful Dead, with Jacksonville the destination of the protagonist, who is getting on the “last train to Jacksonville” to patch things up with his woman. Also known as “Last Train to Jacksonville”.
6. “I’ll Never Play Jacksonville Again” – Graham Parker (from the album Deepcut to Nowhere, 2001)
A true story of two girls in St. Pete mixed with the true story of Parker’s gig at The Milk Bar, a downtown Jacksonville venue. He calls it one of the more bizarre gigs he’s ever played; very few people attended and those that did, well... When asked later about that song, he says “I’ll play Jacksonville again, it’s just a song.”
7. “Boogie Smoogie” – Atlanta Rhythm Section (from the album Dog Days, 1975)
Co-written by Jacksonville’s Robert Nix (drummer for Atlanta Rhythm Section), “Boogie Smoogie” starts off “If you’re ever down in Jacksonville”. It’s a cautionary tale of a woman who frequents the Rainbow Grill.
8. “Turn the Lights Out When You Leave” – Elton John (from the album Peachtree Road, 2004)
A gem from a latter day overlooked Elton John album, the Bernie Taupin lyric says that she is leaving for Jacksonville; he tells her it’s hot in Florida and he’s not going to miss her, even telling her he’s not going to be up all night. In fact, “turn the lights out when you leave.”
9. “In Jail in Jacksonville” – Root Boy Slim (from his self-titled debut album, 1978)
Part punk, part parody, part blues band; Root Boy Slim made a bit of a splash in the late 70s as a bit of an answer to the British punk invasion with outrageousness and occasionally hilarious music. “In Jail in Jacksonville” speaks for itself.
10. “Jacksonville Kid” – Lynyrd Skynyrd (recorded 1977, bonus track on reissue of Street Survivors, 2001)
Ronnie Van Zant added new words to Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” (which Skynyrd recorded for Street Survivors) and called it “Jacksonville Kid”. It is thought to be the last vocals Ronnie ever recorded.